A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the third Chronicles of Narnia installment is, like its predecessors, a tween-friendly fantasy adventure. In general, you can expect the same level of special effects-heightened battles/violence and minor language as Prince Caspian. While there's little inappropriate content for older elementary-schoolers and up, younger kids may be frightened by a few scenes with a giant sea serpent and others set on an island where people are routinely sacrificed. Like all of the adaptations based on C. S. Lewis' classic books, there are some mild allusions to Christianity, though nothing overtly religious is said (Aslan does reference the "other name" he's called in the regular world). The film offers positive lessons about collaboration, selflessness, and overcoming personal doubts and fears, and the three central kids all grapple with self-worth issues that will be very relatable for tweens. Note: The movie's 3-D images add to the intensity of a few action sequences, particularly the battle with the giant sea snake.
What's the story?
In this adaptation of C.S. Lewis' third Chronicles of Narnia book, the two youngest Pevensie kids, Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley), are staying with their aunt, uncle, and obnoxious younger cousin Eustace (Will Poulter). They make the best of their unhappy situation ... until one day, when the seaside painting in their guest room comes to life and sweeps them (and unbelieving Eustace) onto the Dawn Treader, the royal Narnian ship of King Caspian (Ben Barnes). Caspian explains that he and his crew are on a mission to find the seven "lost lords" of Narnia, who were dispatched by his father ages ago but were never heard from again. To restore peace to Narnia, they must track down the lords' enchanted swords and lay them at Aslan's table. As Caspian, the Pevensies, and the crew of the Dawn Treader navigate treacherous waters, they're each tested by an evil mist that emanates from an ominously dark island.
Is it any good?
The Chronicles of Narnia series isn't exactly The Lord of the Rings saga, but, THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER is surprisingly engaging. Yes, it follows the less-glamorous younger siblings and their insufferable on-screen cousin, but that's true to Lewis' story and allows for Edmund and Lucy (and Keynes and Henley) to mature and show that they're as worthy as Peter and Susan to fight for Narnia. Simon Pegg replaces Eddie Izzard as the voice of Reepicheep, and once again the sword-wielding mouse is a highlight of the action -- in this case helping Eustace grow into a brave defender of Narnia.
Director Michael Apted, a master at nuance and character development (he made both the groundbreaking documentary series 7 Up and the Oscar-winning biopic Coal Miner's Daughter), smartly focuses on the relationships between the main characters rather than the action. There are still some special effects-heavy sequences, but it's not mind blowing. So Apted chronicles how Lucy deals with her desire to be as beautiful as her older sister and how Edmund struggles with his jealousy over living in Peter's -- and now Caspian's -- shadow. These are believable younger sibling "issues," and it makes the Pevensies -- and Eustace, who's too logical and uptight for his own good -- incredibly relatable to a tween audience, many of whom are experiencing similar doubts about their self-worth. So although this saga isn't quite as memorable as other epic fantasies like LOTR and the Harry Potter movies, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a worthier-than-expected journey.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how each of the main characters was tested and tempted and yet came out victorious. What insecurities did each of them overcome? What is the movie's message about pride and beauty?
For those who've read the books, how faithful is the film to the story?
Why do you suppose the Pevensies can't return to Narnia once they've grown up? What is it about getting older that makes your time in Narnia come to an end?
- In theaters: December 10, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: April 5, 2011
- Cast: Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes
- Director: Michael Apted
- Studio: Walden Media
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: some frightening images and sequences of fantasy action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.